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McLaughlin Buick Club of Canada

Homecoming 2014 - Muskoka, Ontario

Eric and Cynthia Luks were our hosts this year. Talk about taking a chance, they have never attended a Homecoming, yet they volunteered to run this one, and after day one, it looked exciting. Eric and Cynthia have a vintage 1923 McLaughlin and live in a 1924 vintage house in Port Carling. They are heavily involved in the "Dippy Boat Organization". The Dippy is a disappearing propeller boat that was built in Port Carling in the early teens and the factory was right below the Luks home on the water.
Eric and Cynthia had a lot for us to do. On Thursday we drive over country back roads to our first stop in Gravenhurst where we boarded the Royal Mail Ship Segwun, for our two and a half hour lunch cruise on Lake Muskoka. Returning to the dock we met two late arrival couples, Bob and Doreen Ward and Bill and Rosalee Hamilton, who had decided not to partake of the boat ride. We drove a very short distance to "Grace and Speed", the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre. This is a beautiful museum all about the boats and heritage of the Muskoka Lakes and the many beautiful resorts on the lakes.
Then it was back in the Buicks for another short drive, this time to the Butson Boat Restoration Shop. There they repair wooden boats, mostly the ones built in Muskoka over the years. After this visit, during which we enjoyed homemade butter tarts, we returned to the hotel to freshen up before dinner at Patterson Kaye Lodge, a nice buffet meal in a very nice setting. We drove along a river past nice homes and past "Santas Village", a long standing Muskoka attraction. After dinner we returned to the hotel at our own pace.
Friday morning dawned cool and dry with a promise of Sun and warmth. We departed the hotel on a fairly long tour of the area, including driving past some of the long standing guest hotels in the area, including Windermere House, the oldest golf course in Muskoka, Windermere Golf and Country Club. I had played many games there in past years, it is a nice course. We also drove past Cleveland House and the Baldwins resort.
This long tour eventually led us into the town of Rosseau where the road was lined with cars parked on both sides while their owners visited the Rosseau Market, located at bottom of steep hill on Hwy 141. This market was the reason for our visit. We had reserved parking behind the Crossroads Restaurant where some of our people ate lunch while some of us ate from the vendors in the market. There was entertainment on the stage and children playing in the sandy beach. We also walked up town and visited antique stores and the local general store and even had Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream.
We departed the parking lot at 2 p.m. and drove a short distance to visit a car restoration shop owned by Tony Hawkrigg, who, after he retired from his job as a mechanic, fell into the restoration business. He had a beautiful 1957 Special there and the owner was there too. His 57 had been restored to the same condition and color as the car his parents used on their honeymoon. Tony also had some street rods in the shop and a VW which runs at Bonneville, to raise money for Sick Kids Hospital.
We picked up a couple of English chaps at Tony's, Bob Findlay, who has a cottage close by, and his pal Jerry Rowe, in their 1953 Super Convertible. From this shop we continued on our Muskoka tour and drove into the parking lot of the JRW Marriot Hotel for a quick viewing of the entrance.
Our next stop was the home of Bill Gray, a member of the family behind Maple Leaf Mills. A very interesting old house built in the 1800's. Our next stop on the tour was at the shop of Matt Fairbrass, who restores marine engines and he was very interesting to listen to. It was then time to head to Ella's restaurant in Port Carling for dinner and a talk from Tim DuVernet, a local photographer of Muskoka boats, complete with a slide show.
Saturday, our final day, started with our McLaughlin Buick and Buick autos representing 6 decades leading our parade of vehicles into Port Carling: Bill and Marlene McLaughlin, 29 McLaughlin, Bill and Rosalee Hamilton, 38 McLaughlin, Keith and Glenda Corby, 41 McLaughlin, Larry and Pam Splane, 56 Buick Special, David and Sonia Bishop, 63 Riviera and Wes Ebbs, 75 LeSabre. These 6 cars were allocated special parking privileges at the Muskoka Lakes Boat Show.
The rest of the cars parked at the library, which was a just a short walk from Eric and Cynthia's home where lunch was available from noon till two p.m. Their children and spouses did the cooking of the burgers and brats. Cynthia had laid on chips, veggies and cold drinks, then dessert.
We all walked down to the boat show and saw the 6 cars get parked, then explored the area, seeing many beautiful wooden boats. It makes you wonder what it costs to restore one of these pieces of Muskoka history. Boy, if you think restoring a Buick costs a lot, try a boat on for size! At least we get to drive ours on trips of some distance and are not locked into three lakes. Anyway, the saying "the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys" rings true when it comes to Muskoka boats. At the dock were two beautiful boats that were built for the McLaughlin family.
We visited the nice Muskoka Lakes Museum near the locks too and took a walk up Main Street to visit some stores. Then about noon, we made the climb up the hill to Eric and Cynthia's home for the aforementioned lunch. They had erected tents and had enough seats for us to sit and enjoy the sun and each other until the food was ready. After lunch we visited Eric's boat house to admire his "Dippy" and his Ditchburn cruiser. We headed back towards the hotel and made a stop at an art gallery in a garden.
Our banquet was booked at the River Edge restaurant in Bracebridge, down on the river. Our directions were hampered by a detour and we all got lost (except Bill and Marlene who walked the distance). The room was hot and was upstairs, but the food was good when it arrived. We had gifts for everyone and had fun giving them out. Paul Doddington, a local resident and a good friend of the Luks' entertained us with vintage films from the 1930's.
I gave out long service awards to Wes Ebbs, 44 years, Harold MacQueen, 37 years, and Bob Ward, 40 years. I delivered one to Bruce Forster, 39 years, in Fenlon Falls on the way home and will give one to David Mitchell, 44 years, at the next board meeting in September. The recipients were all very surprised, which was the point.
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